| Sailors' Society are gone over annually by the parish minister
of the day, and initialed by him.
THE HAMMERMEN'S AND THE POTTERS' SOCIETIES.
There were also the Hammermen's Benefit Society and the Potters'
Benefit Society, neither of which were so ancient as the Sailors;
but both are long since gone for ever.
CARTERS' FRIENDLY SOCIETY.
The Carters' Benefit Society was instituted as early as 1829,
and it has seen many ups and downs in its day. The time was
when a great array of beautifully caparisoned horses was wont
to be turned out in procession on the annual fair day; but
now, few of the carters will be at the trouble to dress their
horses for the occasion. Their secretary at the present time
is Mr David Fraser; treasurer and boxmaster, Mr Peter Dudgeon;
first and second key-keepers, Messrs George Cunningham, jun.,
and William Rodger respectively; and Mr George Rodger, officer.
The sick directors are—Eastern District, Mr Andrew Thomson;
Middle District, Mr William Thomson; and Western District,
Mr George Edmond. Prestonpans Fair, or Carters' Play rather,
took its name from the Carters' Society, and is always held
on the third Wednesday of June. At one time there were over
one hundred members on the roll. The number has been considerably
reduced of late, but the society continues in a flourishing
FREE GARDENERS' SOCIETY.
The Caledonian Branch of Free Gardeners was instituted here
at an early period. The committee of management at the present
time consists of the following five members— Secretary, Mr
Matthew Brown; Treasurer, Mr John Thomson; R. W. M., Mr Alexander
Thomson; and Mr James Baxter, officer. The membership at the
present time amounts to eighty, and the annual procession
is always on the second Saturday of July.
This annual fete, like many other sports of a similar
nature, has risen from very small estate, until it has assumed
not only very large proportions, but until it has actually
become a " red letter day " in the district. The
following is how it originated: —
"In 1874, " said one of our informants, "though
it had been previously mentioned, something very like, not
' spontaneous combustion, ' but a spontaneity of opinion,
a desire for diversion, burst out among quite a number of
boat owners along the shore, and ' yes, ' they said, ' we
must have a race of our own, ' and that settled the matter;
a beginning was made. "
On this occasion two handsome prizes were given—one a magnificent
gold breast-pin, by Mr Robertson, jeweller, Edinburgh; and
the other a very handsome picture in frame, by Mr Hepburn,
carver and gilder, Edinburgh. The entry money for events made
up a good many prizes on a small scale, and the affair was
fixed for August 2gth 1874. The first sailing match was won
by the boat " Undine, " Henry Fraser, skipper, the
owner; the second being the boat " Morning Star, "
David Dobson, owner. Owing to want of wind the sports extended
over two days, when quite a number( of boys' races
were sailed too.
On the second year things were gone about in a thoroughly
business-like fashion, a committee appointed, contributions
sought, and quite a series of sailing and rowing races, illuminations
on sea and shore, and various other sports arranged for. Mr
Ford, Beach House, who had taken a very active interest in
the affair, was appointed commodore. The sports were kept
up for about ten seasons, and unexpectedly ceased.
After a good many years cessation a resumption of the sports
took place. On this occasion, among others, Messrs R. White,
David Adams, the Messrs Belfield, Robert Clark, and George
Hunter came strongly to the front, and these annual sports
have contnued to go with great birr ever since. The month
of August, when the sea-side holiday-seekers are expected
to be most numerous in the village, is the time chosen for
the fete. The last commodore was Mr George Moncur, Preston
The sailing committee consists of Messrs Thomas Rennie, Henry
Fraser, John Meldrum, James M'Lennan, D. Thomson, R. W. Ritchie,
P. Milligan, Alexander Black, John B. Bower, Rev. H. C. Cargill,
Joseph Wilson, William Leckie, Andrew Cunningham, George Thomson,
and William M'Neill; with Robert Clark, treasurer, and George
Hunter, secretary. Last season there were over twenty items
on the programme and a heavy prize list.